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Troops die in Pakistan derailment

Published 02/07/2015

At least five soldiers have been killed in a train accident in Pakistan
At least five soldiers have been killed in a train accident in Pakistan

A train used to transport Pakistani soldiers has fallen into a canal because of a bridge collapse in the eastern Punjab province, killing at least five soldiers.

The military said the train derailed while crossing the Chanawan canal near the city of Gujranwalal.

It said commandos, divers and other rescuers had retrieved 80 passengers, five of whom had been wounded.

TV networks showed footage of soldiers and civil authorities taking part in the rescue operation as helicopters flew over the canal.

Pakistan Railways spokesman Abdul Rauf Tahir said that another passenger train carrying hundreds of people had passed over the same bridge about 90 minutes before the train carrying soldiers fell into the canal.

"We frequently examine our bridges, but it is too early to say what caused the accident," he added.

Earlier, an army official and a government official said the train was being used by Pakistan's army to transport soldiers from the southern Sindh province.

They said hundreds of soldiers were participating in the rescue operation and experts from the army were examining the collapsed bridge to determine the cause of the incident.

They said some of the army officers on board the train were travelling with their families.

Train accidents are common in Pakistan, where tracks and bridges are often poorly maintained.

Small separatist groups in Pakistan's south-western Baluchistan have been known to bomb railway tracks.

Pakistani army spokesman Major General Asim Bajwa later tweeted that 12 soldiers, including the unit's commander, were killed in the accident and that rescue efforts were ongoing.

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